Want to Not Suck At Life? Establish a routine!
I am a huge fan of routine, maybe to a fault. I love when things “go as planned” and have a hard time when things change suddenly. Now, being able to go with the flow is part of life, and getting too obsessed over everything working out perfectly is not a good idea (I’m working on it, ok?!) but having a solid routine is key if you want to stay productive.
Meal prepping, financial goals, fitness goals, whatever you are trying to achieve; having a routine will help you achieve those goals. It may seem monotonous or boring, but it’s worth it. No champion athlete ever won by aimlessly practicing whenever/however they liked. They did it through consistent practice. Through routine. Through boring, day after day, training, even when they didn’t want to. Finding a plan, and sticking with it, is a pillar of success.
So how do you start? How do you go from a goal like, “I want to lose weight”, to actually losing weight in a consistent and safe manner? Baby steps. Here are a few tips for getting started on a routine(s) that will help you achieve your goals, no matter what they are.
1 – Work backwards. The first thing you have to do is figure out what your goal is, and work backwards from there. You can’t effectively lose weight if you don’t know how much to eat. Your goal is to lose 10 pounds in 3 months. Great. That means you need to lose about 3 pounds a month, which is about .75 pounds a week. What does your diet need to look like in order to lose roughly a pound a week? It’s probably something along the lines of a 10-20 % calorie reduction, or increased exercise volume. Easy. Cutting 250-500 calories a day is way less intimidating than just saying “lose 10 pounds”.
2 – Commit to yourself first. One of the hardest things to do when making lifestyle changes is to actually stick with them long enough so they become routine. Life gets crazy and there is always an excuse within reach for why this week wasn’t “normal” but let’s be real, what is “normal” anyway?? My advice is this: for the first 3 weeks, be very strict and commit to yourself first. If you want to start running 5 days a week at 6 am, then you know going out for drinks after work on a Tuesday might be a bad idea. When you are trying to establish a new routine or habit, you need to be fully committed to it first. Yeah, your friends might give you a hard time, but hey, it’s only 3 weeks! Soon after it will become a habit and you’ll just roll with it. I use exercise and fitness scenarios a lot, but this would easily apply to other goals as well.
3 – Write it down. Whether you actually write it down or type it out doesn’t matter. What matters is that you did something to help you keep your focus on the goal you have. When you take extra time to reinforce your goal by writing it out, you are adding an extra layer of self-accountability that will keep your goal in your mind all day. Try writing down your goal first thing in the morning during those first three weeks, or setting an alarm for the mid afternoon that will remind you to keep your diet in check, or for financial goals, eat dinner at home instead of spending money on a night out. Whatever your goal, or routine you are trying to establish, is, writing it down everyday will help.
4- Find a buddy. This one can be huge. Finding another person with a similar goal to you is an awesome way to stay on track. Want to work out more? Find a lifting buddy and pick a time. Not only will it be more fun having someone else around, but it adds another layer of accountability. You can even make it fun by having a friendly bet on who can lose the most weight or whatever your goal is.
Now, like I said before, don’t get so caught up in the routine that you miss out on life (expect for those first 3 weeks!) I am learning this as well. Sometimes I get so caught up in living “perfectly” that I forget to enjoy the random and awesome things life has for me. When family is up for a visit, or there is a special event happening, go for it. Don’t be the guy that “can’t” go to the going away party because Friday is the day to cook for the week! Establish a routine that you can/will follow most of the time, but isn’t so rigid that when life happens you can’t deal with it. The first few weeks can be tough, but it will get easier. Remember, just like a butt, everyone has excuses and they all stink!
Now, get planning and DFQ